I hope you had a great holiday weekend. Mine was a pretty good mix of family, friends, grilling, and fireworks. The one exception was helping a friend move his frustratingly disorganized child to a new apartment. That good deed went about four hours longer than expected, but the good news is that it should count as penance for a few venial sins.
I feel bad about the lack of posts or even a quick heads up. Nothing bad is behind that, just a bunch of stuff coming together at one time. I've started work on some IT certifications, the yard had gotten out of control again, car repair, a couple of quick trips to help a friend, and family from New York visiting. And, to be frank, the news these days and the politics around that have kind of left me a little at sea when it comes to some of my fellow Americans. I'm sure I'm not alone there. But on to other stuff.
Speaking of grilling, I made BBQ pork spare ribs for my niece last week, her favorite. I did this recipe and method, which in a nutshell is rub, bake, finish on the grill with BBQ sauce. I've pretty much had it with trying to do ribs only on my charcoal grill. It's too much of a pain and the results are a bit too uneven for all that effort. That recipe is a good one if you are looking for something. My one caution is that two hours baking was perfect for baby back ribs, but three hours was a bit too long on the spare ribs. They just barely held together for me on the grill.
A Fourth of July parade float that depicted a figure standing outside an outhouse labeled the “Obama Presidential Library” has created a stir on social media and is also receiving criticism in Norfolk, Nebraska.
The usual cowards are crying "Racism," but it's not. It's mockery, and well-earned by a president who has mocked and scorned his political opponents from the start.
Well-heeled West Villagers will be in for a rude surprise when they open the latest copy of their local newspaper and see the headline, “The N—-r in the White House” — except without the dashes.
The shocking headline in the WestView News is a reference to President Obama and sits at the top of Page 15 above an opinion piece that criticizes what it calls the anti-black “racism” of far-right voters.
The convoluted screed by author and journalist James Lincoln Collier is actually a pro-Obama piece — but that didn’t stop West Villagers from decrying the printing of the slur.
This part made me snort a little:
Collier “wanted to use the word” to “shock us into accepting that there are people who believe and use this outrageous word,” Capsis went on.
Yeah, and about 95% of them are African-American. It permeates and is acceptable to use in wide swaths of black culture in America. Anecdotally speaking, it appears to be making a bit of a comeback in white culture too.
Democrats think they can keep cynically using false charges of racism as a political tool without any negative effects, but lies are corrosive even if it takes awhile for the damage to become visible. Lots of white people I know, including myself, are tired of the cowards who hide behind the race card. We're angry and resentful at falsely being labeled as racists just for being opposed to Obama's policies, or lack thereof. We're tired of being called racists for holding the common sense belief that leaving high school without a diploma, doing drugs, getting arrested, having babies as young teens are all bad ways to start the rest of your life.
The main result I'm seeing is that more of my white friends are tuning out the problems of urban blacks in America. Why should they care if their sincere efforts to help are rejected and reviled? Their focus now is on trying to insulate themselves and their families from the fallout. And I hear that word used a bit more openly in the last couple of years, usually in the form of "f*cking n—-rs." For example, it has happened twice at the local bar recently, coming from what seemed like nice white couples I had just started chatting with. The older couple got pretty sheepish when challenged, but the younger one was unapologetic. I've been going to that bar since it moved in at the corner 15 years ago and I've never seen anything close to that until now. There have been some other examples as well.
Race relations have improved dramatically since the time I was born, but that doesn't mean they will always get better. I think right now they are getting worse, and worse than most people realize. It's just one more area where Obama has squandered the opportunity to be a great president.
Minnesota had its wettest month ever this past June, with a statewide average of 8.09" of rain. Dad and I took my niece to see Minnehaha Falls and the Mississippi one afternoon last week. I'll post some pictures of that in a bit.
I managed to get banned from a "progressive" blog this weekend, the first time ever for me. I challenged as crazy the idea that MSNBC is "owned by the Right Wing." Being called crazy didn't set the blog owner off though, for some reason he went nuts when I pointed out that MSNBC is owned by Comcast and the top two executives there are huge Obama fans. As if 95% of their lineup wasn't already enough evidence. It's all undeniably true, but apparently too much for his fragile psyche. I'm not going to link to him, because it turns out he appears to be actually crazy, but if any of the regulars here want to know just send me an email.
"Four years ago, I promised to end the war in Iraq. We did."
Barack Obama today:
Q: Just very quickly, do you wish you had left a residual force in Iraq? Any regrets about that decision in 2011?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, keep in mind that wasn’t a decision made by me. That was a decision made by the Iraqi government.
The truth of the matter is that Obama and the drooling idiot of a vice-president that he put in charge of the negotiations with Iraq in 2011 kinda sorta wanted some advisers to stay, but completely botched it.
The Obungler then proceeded to prattle on about how Americans needed immunity from Iraqi prosecution, and they truly did, but the Iraqis wouldn't grant it. What he didn't talk about is how the Bush administration finessed the same issue in the 2008 SOFA.
Nobody seems to remember it now, but in that agreement American troops actually were subject to Iraqi prosecution. The catch was the Iraqis could only prosecute US servicemembers for crimes committed while they were "off duty" and "off base." I know this is a difficult question for the Think Progress crowd, but from 2008 through 2011, how many American servicemembers were ever both off duty and outside the wire?
And the trees whisper a gentle..."none." I have seen no evidence that the same sort of deal could not have been negotiated again with Iraq.
President Obama invested minimal personal capital, abandoning the leader-to-leader-cultivated relationship that the Bush administration prioritized.
The administration lead was Vice-President Biden, a person of considerable stature, but who had to overcome an especially high hurdle before he could win the trust of the Iraqis because of his earlier proposal to divide up Iraq.
Obama's initial country team in Iraq never achieved the unity of effort of the Petraeus-Crocker team.
Once a competent negotiating team was assembled, the administration appeared to undercut it with deliberate leaks about the likely failure of negotiations.
The theory that convincing Iraqis we would leave would elicit cooperative behavior proved flawed. Prime Minister Maliki was even less cooperative with the Obama Administration than he had been with Bush.
The State Department never adequately resourced nor planned for the daunting post-war mission its own strategy required.
The sdministration talked only of ending the Iraq war, and made little effort to mobilize political support at home or abroad for any follow-on policy to secure the gains that we and the Iraqis had together won at great cost.
Finally, some would argue that the president did not really want to leave meaningful numbers of troops in Iraq and so the administration never seriously pursued a SOFA, only going through the motions.
Dexter Filkins, no fan of the war or Bush, recently wrote in The New Yorker:
By 2011, by any reasonable measure, the Americans had made a lot of headway but were not finished with the job. For many months, the Obama and Maliki governments talked about keeping a residual force of American troops in Iraq, which would act largely to train Iraq’s Army and to provide intelligence against Sunni insurgents. (It would almost certainly have been barred from fighting.) Those were important reasons to stay, but the most important went largely unstated: it was to continue to act as a restraint on Maliki’s sectarian impulses, at least until the Iraqi political system was strong enough to contain him on its own. The negotiations between Obama and Maliki fell apart, in no small measure because of a lack of engagement by the White House. Today, many Iraqis, including some close to Maliki, say that a small force of American soldiers—working in non-combat roles—would have provided a crucial stabilizing factor that is now missing from Iraq. Sami al-Askari, a Maliki confidant, told me for my article this spring, “If you had a few hundred here, not even a few thousand, they would be coöperating with you, and they would become your partners.” President Obama wanted the Americans to come home, and Maliki didn’t particularly want them to stay.
Dealing with Maliki in Iraq was and is no doubt every bit as difficult, distasteful, and disgusting as dealing with Karzai in Afghanistan. It was the same for the Bush administration. The difference between Bush and Obama however, is Bush kept his eye on what was important, commonly known as America's interests, and President Petulant Pants focused on what was important to him, namely him.
Another round of thunderstorms is slamming the Twin Cities and southern Minnesota this morning. The weather service has recorded 3.47" as of 9:45 AM and with the ground already saturated from the wettest spring since 1871, nearly all of that is eventually going to find its way to the Mississippi. Flood gauges along the river from Brainerd to Dubuque were near or over flood stage before this latest torrential rain and there's more still to come this week. Heck, they're talking another 1-3" yet this morning and judging by how hard it is raining as I type this it will be closer to the 3" mark.
I haven't seen any warnings about major flooding on the Mississippi, yet, but there was a definite surge of water heading south already and it will get a big boost from today's storms, and the heavy rain in the forecast for the overnight. And there's at least a chance of thunderstorms every day for the next week. If those materialze and produce more heavy rains I can't believe there won't be a significant impact downriver.
No need to panic, but flood-prone communities along the Mississippi in Iowa, Illinois, and Missouri should start paying attention.
Mom's straw bale gardening project this year has not exactly gone by the book. She followed all of the directions to the letter, but the composting process never kicked off the way it was supposed to. We decided the heck with it and went ahead and got seeds and plants in last week:
I believe it starts with a pumpkin plant on the lower left which will be trained down to the ground on the other side of the bales. Then two bell pepper plants. Then a squash plant that will also be trained to the ground alongside the pumpkin plant. That's followed by a cucumber bush and an "Early Girl" tomato plant that will both be caged or trellised somehow. Finally, the bale we put top soil on where Mom planted some onions, kale, and beets. I'll see what it looks like after a week when I get back.
Split Rock Lighthouse from a nearby scenic overlook:
The June moon the other afternoon:
I would like to play around with taking some more moon pics with the camera tonight, but these are what await me:
It was nice on the deck, down on the rocks, or anywhere else that was sunny today. However, the minute you stepped into the woods or just some shaded area the mosquitoes were ferocious. Some Deep Woods Off kept them from biting when I went fishing this morning, but they still swarmed to the point of aggravation. The problem is that spring came late and there's been plenty of water and now the first big hatch is in full swing along the North Shore. Just have to deal with it.
I may still give some photos a try...or I may just drink. It's a tough call.
When I saw the following I wasn't sure if I should laugh or blurt out "I'll kick your ass" like some sort of Hank Hill of the North, so I did both:
Retailers are starting to push a new trend in menswear: the short suit.
The ensemble looks like a regular suit from the waist up, with a sport coat over a button-down shirt and sometimes a tie or bowtie. Instead of trousers, however, the suit's bottoms are cropped at the knee.
Here's a helpful image, as if the description itself isn't horrifying enough:
I would hire a guy who showed up for a job interview wearing a short suit...just so I could fire him.
Maybe this will become the groomsman's version of the despised bridesmaid's dress.
Somewhere right now a 70-something man is thinking a short suit is kind of a spiffy, but it really needs a pair of black socks to complete the look.
Then there's the Barneys New York version with chiffon panels. On that, words escape me.
I was driving along and wondering what to post to mark the 70th anniversary of D-Day when Dennis Prager made it easy for me by playing the following clip on his radio show:
I believe that clip is from 2007.
Listening to Charles Durning speak I got at least a glimmer of the terror and horror he felt that day. All those thousands of young men and the thousands more who would follow in their footsteps for 11 more long months.
The courage and devotion it took to step forward into that probable death is staggering, but that's what 150,000 men did that day. They rode in gliders, stepped out of airplanes, and stormed the beaches. And they prevailed.
Most of the survivors of that day are gone now. Charles Durning passed away on Christmas Eve of 2012. But their sacrifice and achievement on D-Day will be remembered as long as there is a United States of America.
The script is now all too familiar: Take a difficult situation and write in a cover-up and a healthy dose of lies. Confuse the audience with misdirection and half-truths. Finally, hire a cast and crew of nitwits and presto, we have another major motion clusterfuck from the directorial hands of Barack Hussein Obungler.
And that's my nice summary of the Bowe Bergdahl mess. Here are a few thoughts on what has quickly devolved into a sorry and embarrassing spectacle.
-Bowe Bergdahl deserves his day in court and to have his side of the story heard. In fact, he damn well better face a court martial, not just for the good of the US Army, but also for his own sake. Either he will clear his name or he will be held accountable if found guilty of desertion and/or, God forbid, collaborating with the enemy.
Obama and his team have already failed once to understand the powerful emotions around this issue. If they stupidly decide that, as one person put it, "Bergdahl has suffered enough," and they bypass military justice, the fury that will be unleashed will make the current storm look like a light summer shower. And Bowe Bergdahl will get directly caught up in it as well. Somebody will kick his ass if not worse. That's not a threat from me by any means, just a frank assessment of what the future will hold for Bergdahl if Obama botches this part too.
-Innocent until proven guilty is important, but that doesn't make the evidence so far any less damning. From public statements by his former platoon mates to leaked official assessments going back 4 years it seems pretty certain that he deserted his comrades, not just during wartime, but in a war zone itself. That's one of the worst things a soldier can do short of fratricide.
There are rumors that Bergdahl actually collaborated with the enemy, but I haven't seen any solid evidence for that yet. Certainly not anything like the evidence of desertion, which is bad enough.
-They knew that Bergdahl was almost certainly a deserter back in 2010, if not the day after he went missing, but they covered it up for over 4 years. The government claims it was for Bergdahl's safety, but that doesn't ring true to me. If anything, confirming that he was a deserter would seem to me to assure the Taliban that he was sincere in not wanting to fight them. This should have been handled in a straightforward manner from the beginning.
-If they knew he was a deserter then why the hell was he promoted, twice? This fact burns me up almost as much as the desertion itself. I worked hard to earn my sergeant's stripes and it meant something to me to become a non-commissioned officer. I didn't get that rank just by putting in time and neither should Bergdahl, particularly as he appeared to be a goddamned deserter right from the get go. I'll bet the vast majority of current and former NCOs feel the same way. The people who signed off on that need to be fired if they are civilians and run out of the service if they are military. It's inexcusable.
-Susan Rice going out on a Sunday talk show and saying Bergdahl served with "honor and distinction" was every bit as clueless or mendacious as her Benghazi performance. I would have left Washington in shame after the latter, but Susan Rice has proved she has no shame. None. Anybody who takes anything she says at face value is an idiot.
-Ditto for Chuck Hagel. He served with honor in Vietnam, but Washington has turned him into just another asshole.
-Right now all I want is the truth. For once just give us the damn truth.
I'll have more a bit later, but right now I have some stuff to do.
*Unless and until he is exonerated I refuse to recognize any rank for Bergdahl other than that of private.
The gardens are finally starting to take shape, but yesterday's deluge cut work off a little too soon. Between yesterday afternoon and this morning there was a good 3" of rain at my house and I think some of my seeds were washed away. More thunderstorms are on the way this evening and these might have some big winds too. Last night we just got the heavy rain and some house-rattling thunder. Hopefully it will clear up again tomorrow and I can get a look at what needs to be redone. It's been a tough spring for gardening up here.
I have mixed feelings on the Bowe Bergdahl news. It is, of course, good to hear that any American is released from the grip of the Taliban, let alone an American soldier. That's tempered, however, by questions around the circumstances that led to his capture in the first place. There is the strong possibility, I would even call it likelihood, that Bergdahl deserted his fellow soldiers in a combat zone. If that is the case it is a grave offense, one that can be punished with death under the UCMJ. No, I don't want to see Bergdahl get the death penalty, but if he is a deserter he must be held to account. In the name of good order and discipline within the finest military in the world this must not be whitewashed. We will see where the truth leads us, hopefully.
The Twins managed to take their second series in a row against the Evil Empire on their home turf today. Phil Hughes got his sixth win, which also has to have the bonus effect of annoying the heck out of Yankee fans. Hughes is now 6-1 and has dropped his ERA to 3.12 since his very rocky start. Could the Twins actually be fun to watch again? For a below .500 team I mean.
I watched one of the videos that had ultimately led to the police visiting that Santa Barbara shooter a month ago. Had the cops seen it I don't think they would have been so casual with the guy. I don't believe the spin that nothing could have been done. It's true that there's no guarantee it would have stopped the lunatic in the long run, but I'm convinced there's an opportunity to learn something about identifying and intervening ahead of a massacre, or at least some of them. the press seems to be in "Nothing to see here, move along" mode though, so I don't think we will.
Jay Carney has resigned his gig as White House press secretary. As I commented over at PJ Media, my sources tell me he has landed a lucrative contract with a fertilizer plant in Iowa, where his job on the line will be to continuously speak into 50 lb. bags.
Another mass shooting and the all too predictable aftermath. At times I wonder if Satan sets these lunatics off and then sits back and gleefully munches popcorn while we tear at each other like starved wolves.
One would have to have a heart of stone not to be touched by watching the grief stricken father of Christopher Martinez, but he's mostly wrong here:
"Why did Chris die?" he screamed. "Chris died because of craven, irresponsible politicians and the NRA. They talk about gun rights. What about Chris' right to live?"
Chris died because a lunatic shot him, but also because the politics of gun control didn't give the lunatic's family, doctors, and law enforcement the tools that might have stopped him, even though they came heart-breakingly close. However, it's not fair to just blame the politicians, because we the people are the ones who are deeply polarized and kind of stuck on stupid here. Our politicians simply reflect that.
I've watched that lunatic's last video and I've read the tail end of his "manifesto" that details his grotesque plans. He was one very sick but determined individual, one who was going to go on a rampage one way or another.
Now, we always seem to assume that if some crazy person was denied access to guns he will simply choose a less deadly method to carry out his plot. Not this guy, he would have gone bigger. I can't prove it, but read what I did if you have the stomach and tell me if you think I'm wrong.
This is an important point that is getting lost in all of the screaming about gun control, but that's what always happens after mass shootings. The gun grabbers hijack the conversation and start screaming about the NRA. The gun rights crowd screams back with arguments that are, sadly, becoming less and less paranoid. And a significant chunk of the public screams "DO SOMETHING," even if they don't know what "SOMETHING" is or if it will make a difference, before they quickly slip back into their normal self-obsessed stupor. The end result is a lot screaming and little or no lessons learned, and consequently no truly effective policies.
Sorry to be so cynical, but that's what is happening again. And it's the reason, in part, that Chris Martinez is dead.